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29.02.16

South-eastern councils join calls for planning devolution

Calls for local councils to gain more control over planning are growing as South East England Councils (SEEC) submitted evidence to the government arguing that they should be granted more powers.

SEEC said in evidence to the Department for Communities and Local Government planning policy consultation that the government should give councils powers to incentivise developers to build approved new homes quickly.

They also called for councils to decide the best mix of affordable homes to buy and rent for their areas, and allow local authorities to set housing developer contributions for infrastructure to reflect local needs.

They join chief executives from five northern councils, who called for the government to devolve housing responsibilities at the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference last week.

Cllr Nicolas Heslop, SEEC chair, said: “Councils are already working in partnership with developers and other organisations to progress local plans and provide new housing but delivery is still falling short of what is agreed.

“What we’re asking for is a range of powers that will enable councils, working with our local partners to respond to local circumstances and deliver homes. This includes powers to incentivise builders to deliver, and to free up funding for new affordable rented homes.”

In a letter to the consultation, Cllr Heslop and deputy chair Cllr Roy Perry said that the south east builds the most houses in England, with 21,900 in 2014-15, but that this was a drop from 30,000 in 2007-08.

They said that lack of affordable housing, the slow pace of development and infrastructure failing to match demand are all challenges facing planning in the region.

Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex local authorities have made a joint fiscal devolution bid similar to that made by northern authorities.

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